Malmesbury - History
The Avon Mill site, despite being best known for its previous 19th century Silk Mills, has been the site of a mill since the 13th century.
In about 1600, Avon Mill became a fulling mill (process during which cloth was thickened and shrunk by pounding it in a solution of fullers earth), but ceased to have such a role in 1622. A century later, the woollen industry in Malmesbury as a whole had closed down.
In 1852, after years of the site slipping in and out of use and various owners, it was bought by silk manufacturers Thomas Bridget & Co. of Derby. Silk ribbons were very much in demand in the Victorian era and at its peak the factory employed around 400 people. The business failed in 1899, but was reopened and by 1900 there were 150 workers. The mill was forced to close yet again that year, but as before it reopened, this time in the early 1920’s by Avon Silk Mills Co. Ltd. Silk production continued until 1941 when it was closed down by the Ministry of Supply.
The site has since possessed a variety of roles, from being used to dress rabbit skins to making battery chargers, but in 1984 both of the main buildings were converted into flats, which they remain to this day.
Vernon, Charles & Malmesbury Civic Trust., An Historical Guide to Malmesbury (Malmesbury Civic Trust, Chippenham: May, 2005).